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December 15, 2005

Why Must Writers Always Denigrate Our Flawless Nation? Whichever Flawless Nation It May Be?

There's a truly interesting piece in the New Yorker this week by the Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk:

Last February, in an interview published in a Swiss newspaper, I said that “a million Armenians and thirty thousand Kurds had been killed in Turkey”; I went on to complain that it was taboo to discuss these matters in my country.

So, what's happened to him for breaking this taboo?

In Istanbul this Friday [...] I will stand before a judge. My crime is to have “publicly denigrated Turkish identity.”

Wow, what monsters they are in Turkey! Thank god we don't have anyone like that here!

Except of course for the 1996 Republican presidential nominee!

The purpose of the National History Standards seems not to be to teach our children certain essential facts about our history but to denigrate America's story while sanitizing and glorifying other cultures. This is wrong and it threatens us as surely as any foreign power ever has.

That's from a speech Bob Dole gave to the America Legion on September 5, 1995. The National History Standards had recently been promulgated by the Department of Education. Dole's speech was part of an attempt by the U.S. right wing (including Lynne Cheney) to intimidate historians who brought up things like, say, slavery.

Here's something else Dole said:

...this country is the living result of one of history's most magnificent ideas.

Now, this is in some sense true. But there is an iron rule in American politics: the people who continually blather about the greatness of America are always those who want to destroy the parts of America that are great. America is great because we have freedom of speech! they will say, as they actively work to squelch freedom of speech. Their message is always:

Because it is possible to criticize America, you must never criticize America
Posted at December 15, 2005 12:28 AM | TrackBack

Pretty strong words for someone who won't even let us criticize hypocrisy, Jonathan.

Posted by: saurabh at December 15, 2005 03:03 AM

You hypocrite!

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at December 15, 2005 11:58 AM

oh snap!

Posted by: almostinfamous at December 15, 2005 04:17 PM

Seems to me the best history I have read on the USA is Tom E Woods "The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History". Kinda smashes the portcullis that the gatekeepers are leaning on, hey? What a nasty, sordid history it is too! But, then again, is not every history of The State, indeed, every action of same, a litany of brutality and malfeasance against it's own citizens!?!? To the victors the spoils. Of course, in reality, the USA is a beacon of light and freedom, bravely risking americaint lives to make the world a bloody-I mean better-place. Regards.

Posted by: GreginOz at December 15, 2005 11:09 PM

"The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History" is a dreadful book, not in a "I don't agree with it" sense, it's just not history. Zinn's "people's history" is polemic and probably not strictly history but it doesn't rely on amazing, gross, omissions to try and push sophistries. You would learn more about American History by reading Archie comics than that turd.

Posted by: at December 17, 2005 09:32 PM